Sunday, July 22, 2012

Schiphol Cargo, IATA and Chinese Authorities to Celebrate First e-freight Air Shipments

October Will See Chinese Customs Adopted - In Every Sense of the Word
Shipping News Feature

NETHERLANDS – CHINA – The cultural differences between East and West can be a cause of celebration as well as consternation and the Chinese practice of giving ‘mooncakes’, small high calorie, decorated delicacies during the mid Autumn festival will form a key ingredient in a ceremony to mark the target date for the first e-freight shipments between China and Amsterdam following agreement between Schiphol Cargo, the dedicated air freight arm of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, IATA and the Central Customs Department of China.

In a highly-symbolic celebration on October 1st (the National Day of China) the plan is for the partners to exchange simultaneous e-freight shipments of mooncakes and Dutch flowers. Gifting Mooncakes is a tradition which has survived all the political and cultural upheavals in China for hundreds of years. The idea was one of several positive outcomes from a visit to Schiphol by a delegation of high-ranking officials from China’s Central Customs Department. The group wanted to see e-freight in action, and explore collaboration with Schiphol Cargo and its logistics community to assist China’s ambition to introduce paperless airfreight.

During the two-day visit, the group, accompanied by IATA representatives led by Cargo Director Des Vertannes, met with senior executives of Dutch Customs, SkyTeam and member carriers Air France KLM, China Southern and China Cargo Airlines, Schiphol Cargo, Air Cargo Netherlands, Cargonaut, Damco and Rhenus. The programme included tours of logistics facilities at Schiphol, the Customs Control Centre and the AFKLM Cargo handling base. Delegates learned about Schiphol’s extensive airline links with China, the alignment of e-freight with the World Customs Organisation SAFE standards framework and RKC (Revised Kyoto Convention), and SkyTeam’s progress with e-freight.

The group was shown how Cargonaut (the Dutch Cargo Community System) caters for e-freight, and witnessed a live e-freight shipment’s progress through Rhenus’ logistics operation, the AFKLM Cargo handling facility, and Dutch Customs’ own system. Mr Miao Yuexue, Deputy Director General of China Customs, thanked IATA, Schiphol Cargo and the other parties involved in the visit for their tremendous efforts, and he particularly thanked Dutch Customs for sharing their knowledge.

Mr Miao told delegates they had been given a golden opportunity to observe how a paper-based environment could be converted to an electronic one, and expressed the ambition to form a working group in China together with IATA, comprising representatives of the entire supply chain and China Customs. Paying tribute to Schiphol’s great importance as a gateway into Europe, he said the airport was unique among its competitors, as all stakeholders shared the same dream of implementing e-freight. He added that the passion of all involved was very inspiring, and had solidified the resolve of China Customs to implement e-freight as well. Speaking after the visit, Schiphol Cargo Director – Business Development, Saskia van Pelt said:

“China is the world’s biggest exporter, and the single largest market for Schiphol’s logistics community. We cannot realise our goal to make Schiphol a paperless cargo airport without the support and involvement of China’s authorities and airlines. This was one of the best and most positive meetings we have ever held with Chinese representatives; our discussions were very good-natured and open. We are very grateful for their participation, and for the commitment they showed by fielding delegates of such a senior level.

“It’s clear that China Customs fully understands the challenges it is facing, and its enthusiasm for e-freight proves its determination to take positive action. E-freight will bring much greater efficiency and processing capacity to China Customs’ vast operations, benefiting Customs itself, Chinese and other carriers, and the global logistics industry.”

Photo: (Left to right) Chris Wolstenholme (IATA), Joakim Grue (Damco), Arthur van Dijk (Dutch Customs), Zhang Ya Ping (China Customs), Jan Vreeburg (AFKLM Cargo), Zhang Sonquan (China Customs), Miao Yuexue (China Customs), Yin Hao (China Customs), Aad Zonneveld (Dutch Customs), Saskia van Pelt (Schiphol Cargo), Remo Eigenmann (Damco), Shi Da (IATA), Erik Devilee (Dutch Customs), Xing Yaguang (China Customs) and Wang Sheng (China Customs) with inset Mooncake.